Engineering

Hackathon win transforms students into entrepreneurs

Unearthed Hackathon 1 - Credit Matt Schild

A weekend filled with a Hackathon competition has resulted in a potential business idea for a group of Murdoch University students.

Murdoch students Brice Gower, Corey Barrit, Ryan Santos and Louis Williams emerged as the victors of the Unearthed Hackathon after a hard fought 54-hour competition.

Unearthed is an annual open innovation hackathon event hosted by Spacecubed, which offers teams the chance to solve challenges faced by the Western Australian resources sector.

Teams of entrepreneurs, software developers, engineers, and designers worked together to develop prototype solutions to challenges posed by Newcrest Mining and South32.

The Murdoch University student team had a mix of expertise with three third year Engineering students majoring in Industrial Computer Systems and Instrumentation and Control (Brice Gower, Corey Barrit and Ryan Santos) working with Louis Williams who is finishing a postgraduate degree in Psychology.

Brice, who led the Murdoch University team, said the event gave the students a fantastic insight into how real companies operate.

“Most plants are built with a 30 year life span, but technology is improving so rapidly that companies now have massive leaps to make,” Brice said.

“One of the major challenges faced by companies is find ways to go through a digital transformation.

“We had quite an advantage heading into this competition because Murdoch University teaches in such a hands-on and relevant way rather than just talking about theory, which luckily resulted in a win!”

The Murdoch University team worked on a problem posed by South 32 regarding an issue in Worsley’s alumina refinery in Collie.

Currently companies use a series of padlocks to manually isolate and lock isolation points to prevent the workforce from being exposed to potentially fatal electrical, chemical, mechanical energies.

The Murdoch team came up with a smart lock embedded systems for live feedback and control, and are now in talks with South 32 to further develop the idea.

“We are aiming to use the Hackathon prize money on making this solution for South32 a reality,” Brice said.

“We will set up an innovation incubator at SpaceCubed to begin to prototype the solution and eventually would like to use the idea to launch a Lean Startup.”

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